Title: Copper and Goldie, 13 Tails of Mystery and Suspense in Hawai‘i
Genre: Mystery Short Story Collection
Publisher: Magic Island Literary Works
Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published. Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?
LARRY: I have always had what if ideas running through my head. That’s what made me so creative in my former profession, where I wrote proposals, equipment and systems manuals, and customer relations documents in addition to my engineering designs. Since I retired as an electronic and digital design engineer, it’s mainly stories wriggling around up there. There’s a strong need to get them on paper where they belong, so that I can share with others and take pride in something tangible. As for Copper and Goldie, it was a bunch of short stories we wrote for an online e-zine—one issue and poof they’re gone. Publishing them as a collection gave them new life.
Is this your first book?
LARRY: No. Between us, we have published fifteen books since the year 2001. Included are nine novels, three collections of short stories, two memoirs, and an autobiography. Most of these were written together.
With this particular book, how did you publish—traditional, small press, indie, etc. And why did you choose this method?
LARRY: Magic Island Literary Works is an independent publisher wholly owned by Rosemary and Larry Mild. We chose this method because traditional publishing requires a literary agent, and we decided that any agent who would have us wasn’t worth having. The querying and submission ritual was often laborious, if not ridiculous. We had two agents and got rid of them quickly for their lack of effort. Of course, traditional publishing is the best way to go, but they are a tough nut to crack and if sales are not up to snuff, you can be dropped easily—out of print. There’s no guarantee of permanence. One major disadvantage is that traditional publishers and small-press publishers often take a year to get a book out. We had two small-press publishers and then we turned to Indie (Independent) publishing.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey? The pros and cons?
LARRY: Determined to become an Indie publisher, I searched the Internet for a publishing program. I was able to purchase an out-of-date version of Adobe’s InDesign for this purpose. Although there are a number of up-to-date programs out there from $600 to $1,500, I was able to purchase my program for $100. I’ve been using it ever since. When we have a satisfactory manuscript, we send it online to the printer, Lightning Source, Inc., which is owned by Ingram, the largest distributor of English-language books in the world. They feature Print on Demand books as well as fast delivery. They do an excellent printing job. We pay to be in their retail catalogues as well. I also reformat all my print books as e-books in Kindle through Amazon Kindle Create and Nook through Barnes and Noble’s Nook Press.
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
LARRY: The industry has shrunk to a very few traditional giants with multiple imprints. With this shrinking, author opportunity shrinks as well. Traditional publishing houses still maintain a monopolistic stranglehold on newspaper and magazine book reviews, where even the hometown papers rarely review a local author. Small-press firms are feeling the heat from e-books, so they are investing in e-books as well.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
LARRY: If you have inherited the technical/mathematical genes, your brain prefers the left side, and you want to invest learning time and money in becoming a publisher, then, by all means, go for it. However, there are plenty of firms out there willing to format your word processor output into a printable manuscript.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
LARRY: I’ve been suggesting the following seven thoughts to authors ever since we taught mystery writing at Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland.
a. Be a reader in your chosen genre first and learn how it’s done.
b. Good or bad—put all your pertinent thoughts to paper. Edit later.
c. Have a reasonable grasp of where your plot is going before you start.
d. Choose a comfortable point of view (POV) and writing attitude.
e. Create your characters complete inside and out, neither all good nor all bad. Keep a
good record of their traits.
f. Put a lot of extra effort into crafting your first page.
g. Make your climax and ending worthy and relevant.